on 26 April 2004
Patti's first new album since GUNG HO (2000) is a tour-de-force Smithrecord. Gung Ho's rather more polished production has been forsaken infavour of classic Patti Smith raw energy. This puts TRAMPIN' closer infeel to PEACE AND NOISE (1997) than the last record, and this is one ofPatti's looser albums. Fans of RADIO ETHIOPIA (1976) and EASTER (1977)will love it! Indeed, "Radio Baghdad" is very much in the style of "RadioEthiopia" itself (always one of my personal favourites). Trampin' isanother triumph in Patti's unbroken catalogue of greatness. By the secondlisten I challenge you not to rate it the equal of any her other classicalbums.
on 24 October 2012
Trampin' is most likely one of the best albums I have bought so far this year. It has everything that I like about Patti Smith; great poetry fused into brash rockers tinged sometimes with country or even eastern flourishes; wonderful, melodic and unique ballads and great epic tracks that surpass eight minutes. Yes there are so many good things about this album and it is Patti's first album since Gone Again where I cannot fault a single track.
Jubilee opens the album with Patti's typical rousing style. I don't think she has ever written a bad opener to an album and this counrtyesque rocker is contrasted beautifully with the soft Mother Rose, before switching back to more straightfoward rock in Stride of The Mind.
One thing I've always loved about Patti Smith is her loyal guitarist, Lenny Kaye and there is some really great guitar work on the album, particularly in the epics, Cartwheels, Gandhi and Radio Bagdad. Cartwheels is the tenderist of these and quite soft and perhaps a little too short to be an epic, but it's atmosphere alone makes it worth it. It also acts as a nice interlude before the stomping build up of Gandhi, which reminds me a little of the slow build created in Birdland from Smith's debut. Since Gone Again I lost my interest in Smith's longer tracks; I found Gung Ho lacking in any power and Memento Mori was just dull. However, Patti Smith proves with Radio Bagdad, her best 10 minute track ever, even better than Land. Her poetry is direct and powerful, the eastern effects are spine tingling, as is the pretty much the track as a whole. Listen to this with headphones and your eyes closed, completely surrounding yourself in the music and you'll find yourself reeling long after the song is over.
Between these two long tracks we have four tracks. Trespasses is a soft one, working well as it comes right after Gandhi and My Blakean Year as an almost hip hop kind of beat going through it and it's a personal favourite of mine on the album. Cash is another rocking track and following it is the sublime Peaceable Kingdom which slides in nicely to Radio Bagdad.
The title track is the final of the album and one of the most delicate. It is a duet between Smith and her daughter, the former singing and the latter on piano. After something like Radio Bagdad there was really no other way to end the album which is also reminiscent of Elegie on Horses.
Overall this is the best album by Patti Smith alongside several others and it certainly proves that there is a lot more to Patti Smith than simply Horses and Because The Night.
on 14 April 2009
Patti's really well back on form here! The best audio response to the Iraq war along with Neil Young's 'Living With War' - It just says it all that it takes the old crew to make any worthy musical comment on the atrocities of Bush & Blair & Co! This album is SO much more than 'just' that tho - absolutely bloomin' brilliant! The musicianship is SO accomplished and tight along with Patti's usual inspired and awesome lyrics - together makes this listenning experience truly sublime! I saw her on the tour in Birmingham and they can so do it live too! I've been to LOTS of gigs in my life & this has to be one of the very best EVER - my spine really did tingle the whole show - WOW, what a rush!
on 26 September 2008
Patti's early noughties output has always been overtly political, but few of her latter-day records have the power, the scope, the vision or the FIRE of this magnificent album.
"Trampin" is the sound of Patti trying to "make heaven her home," a message she explicitly preaches throughout the album, which can be interpreted as her heartfelt reaction to the Iraq War & 9/11, and her attempt to make sense of the world as a poet.
"Jubilee" begins the album in a typically beatific fashion. The violins resound over stirring, uplifting guitars as she beats of the message "freedom ring" over this powerful rock beat. This sets the elegiac but hopeful tone for the rest of the record.
Songs such as the haunting "Mother Rose" and the ballsy rocker "Stride of the Mind" are instantly emotional, powerful, engaging, melancholy and impassioned. Patti never lost her Muse, but she appears to have several operating at once on this album.
"Cartwheels" and "Trespasses" are longer, slower songs that explore a darker territory. They can be read as a metaphor for a "shift" in the world, a time when exclusion, danger and terror are playing a greater role in our lives. My one criticism is that they perhaps slow down the pace of the album (esp. "Trespasses") but they are beautiful songs in their own right.
"Gandhi" is an improvised rave-up in the style of "Birdland" but is political and devoid of bothersome jazzy piano. Over an incredible nine-minute build-up, citing Dr. King and taking a pop at the wise one himself (umm... Gandhi), this is a stunningly powerful piece of music. Smith's free-association lyrics have never been as strong as she begs her pardon in the sacred garden.
"My Blakean Year" is written entirely by Smith and has an infectiously hip-hop tang to it. "Cash" has a staggering set of lyrics and "Peaceable Kingdom" is a moving elegy either about a broken relationship or the Middle East. Or both.
"Radio Baghdad" is a towering anti-war rant with a frightening build-up. Around nine minutes in, the music hushes down and Smith whispers over smoky flutes and guitars "go to sleep my child" before the guitars come in, designed to attack like a bomb dropped from the sky. This is the most powerful anti-war song I have ever heard.
"Trampin" (title track) is a gorgeous piano traditional, powerful enough to make you weep. I certainly did.
Magnificent. Essential Patti Smith.